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In the Gallery: Roman – Mosaic with Mask of Silenus

Jun

26

AP.1990.19.1- Mosaic with Mask of Silenus, Roman, 1st century A.D.

By Angela Gonzalez,  Curatorial Intern

Depictions of masks are included in mosaics throughout the ancient Roman world. This mosaic contains an image of the mask of Silenus, a woodland diety associated with the Greek god Dionysis and the Greek theater. Silenus became the chief comic character of the satyr plays written by Greek tragedians. In this mosaic, the mask depicts Silenus with a snub nose, a beard, a gaping mouth, wide eyes, and a menacing facial expression represented in the wrinkled brow lines.

Mosaic was a popular art form among the ancient Romans. The technique involves small pieces of colored stone, marble or glass called tesserae, which would be arranged in cement or a plaster base. Although this form of art used tiny materials, it was unbelievably durable. The Romans would use mosaics as flooring or for decorating pavement in outdoor spaces. Mosaics are only one aspect of the vast Roman decorative program which included wall frescos, sculptures, furniture, and ornamental architectural elements.

 

 

           

 

 

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